When it comes to college basketball, February is when it starts to warm up. One day removed from a big UNC/Duke showdown (which saw the Tarheels pull off an impressive comeback and hand the Blue Devils their third straight loss), and you can practically smell the NCAA Men's Tournament in the air. Just in time for the Madness to begin comes the PlayStation 3 version of College Hoops 2K7, which was released on other platforms late last year. The game is due for release on the PS3 in just a few weeks, and we had a chance to check out a preview build of it today.
The majority of College Hoops 2K7 plays much like the other versions of the game, though as in the PS3 version of NBA 2K7, you'll be shooting free throws with the Sixaxis controller. According to College Hoops producers, the motion has been refined to make it easier to make shots. The mechanics are the same--you tilt the controller back to begin the free-throw animation and push forward to release the ball--and the timing still takes some getting used to. Still, a little practice is all it takes before you're draining your free throws with relative ease.
Beyond that, most of the updates for the PS3 version of College Hoops are behind the scenes. Some updates to the full-court-press artificial intelligence are a good example. The development team behind the game has adjusted the AI on the lower difficulty levels to make it easier for a player to get around a press, which apparently had been a sore spot for some of the more casual players, who preferred to try and run through the press instead of passing around it. Series vets shouldn't fear that the game has been dumbed down, however; at the higher difficulty levels, you'll still need to keep your wits about you to beat the game's tough press defense.
Shot percentages have been tweaked a bit, as well--both the number of shots the CPU will take and the success rate for those shots have been changed to better reflect the college game. According to the game producers, particular focus was paid to three pointers. Granted, threes are an increasingly prominent part of the college game, but teams seemed to be a bit less apt to go for shots beyond the arc in the games we played. Of course, these tendencies are mitigated by how closely guarded a shooter is. During one Auburn/Georgia game we played, for example, we were consistently getting lit up by a three-happy Bulldogs' point guard, until we put some tight double coverage on him--thus decreasing his chances for the tre.
Another change to the game is the slightly tweaked progression for coaches in the legacy mode. Fans of the series know that legacy mode puts you in the coach's shoes across two different routes: career (where your goal is to reach the upper echelons of college basketball starting at the very bottom) and open mode (where you can take control of any team you wish). Career mode will be the beneficiary of the career progression changes--as it will be a bit easier to get more high-profile jobs than in previous versions of the game. Finally, there are some updates to certain team uniforms, as well--including a more "maroon" color scheme for Texas A&M jerseys, at the request of some vocal Aggies fans, as well as uni updates for teams like Ohio State, the University of North Carolina, Illinois, and the national champion Florida Gators.
Because we've spent lots of time with the Xbox 360 version of College Hoops in the months since its release, adjusting to the PS3 control scheme took some time, but it wasn't long before we were back in the swing of things. Graphically, 2K7 on the PS3 looks comparable to the Xbox 360 version, at least in terms of the player models and stadium environments, though the preview version of the game we played didn't always run as smooth as the Xbox 360 version.
College Hoops 2K7 is due to hit store shelves on February 20. We'll have a full review of the game once it's released.